The Merriam-Webster dictionaries, also available online, have been the most frequently recommended dictionaries in our interviews on language and grammar. In his interview on grammar and punctuation, Mark Nichol of website Daily Writing Tips called Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary the “dictionary of record” in the United States.
Meanwhile Lane Greene, author of the Johnson language column at the Economist, recommended Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage as the vital book to turn to for clarity on issues like split infinitives—and every other grammar controversy you can think of.
How do these modern dictionaries connect to pioneering American lexicographer Noah Webster (1758-1843)? According to the company’s website, they are his “direct lexicographical heir.” In 1843, they “bought the rights to the 1841 edition of Webster’s magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged” — including the right to publish revised editions. There’s more information about Noah Webster and America’s first dictionary here.
Books by Merriam-Webster
Interviews where books by Merriam-Webster were recommended
Garner's Modern English Usage
by Bryan A. Garner
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style
by Arthur Plotnik
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
by Jane Straus
The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications
by Amy Einsohn
In the age of the internet, we are all writers. Correct grammar and punctuation are key to making a good impression. Grammar geek Mark Nichol, a writer at Daily Writing Tips, picks five of the best grammar and punctuation books, and tells us why bad grammar leads to anarchy.
Most grammar books say ‘do this, and that’s that.’ But who says? How do they know? Real rules are grounded in the facts of actual standard usage. Here are five grammar books that show their work, telling you not only what to do but why, and how they know. Accept nothing less.